By Ed Wendell
Back in 2015, the following message was sent to me via the Leader-Observer’s ‘Contact Us’ page. My mom had just passed away and it was my first Christmas without her.
“All my friends are telling me that Santa is not real and I don’t know what to believe. I saw the Virginia letter and it makes me think he is, but everyone says that it’s just my mom. Their moms even said straight to their faces that it is them! Please tell me! I want this to tell me if I should believe in Christmas magic or not. Is he real? From: Hannah, age 10.”
Yes. Absolutely, positively, and unconditionally, you should believe in Christmas magic and don’t let your friends, or anyone else, tell you otherwise.
Santa’s smiling face has brought joy and happiness to hundreds of millions of children and adults alike for centuries. People love him so much that he’s been the subject of poems, songs, movies, cartoons, all translated in every language there is on Planet Earth.
Think about this, Hannah; you could walk up to a young girl like yourself in any remote corner of our planet, a total stranger that you have nothing in common with. You grew up in different countries, in different climates, speaking different languages, but if you handed this little girl a picture of Santa Claus she’d know who he is and what he represents. And she’d smile.
If that isn’t magic, Hannah, then magic doesn’t exist. Except that you and I both know that it does, and it is real.
If you walk down Jamaica Avenue in Woodhaven on Christmas Eve, you’ll find that Christmas magic casts a powerful spell over people. Suddenly, people who are usually impatient and short with each other are patient and expansive. Quiet strangers with blank faces are, for a brief period of time, warm and friendly
There’s no other word for what Christmas does to people than magic, Hannah. And yes, it is real.
But there’s one thing that your friends got right. Sort of. You see, moms are a lot like Santa. They watch over us, not just one day, but all year round. Moms know exactly what you need and they know the right thing to say when you’re feeling blue.
Moms can make a tummy ache disappear just by rubbing you gently with their hand. Moms can chase the bogeyman away if you’re having a bad dream. And moms can always tell you that everything’s going to be okay, and make you believe it.
Moms can turn the most ordinary thing into something extraordinarily special. When I was your age, I loved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, made by my mom. There’s nothing complicated about making a PB&J, and as I grew older I could always make them myself.
But a PB&J made by mom always tasted special. And it was that way for years and years. And so, this wee boy found himself as a 50-year old man, still enjoying a mom-made PB&J every now and then, and enjoying it more than I would a gourmet dinner in a fancy restaurant.
That’s because moms have a special ingredient that they sprinkle over everything they do. Simply put, that special ingredient is love. And the wonderful thing about a mom’s love is that it isn’t confined to just one day or one season.
A mom’s love is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, for your entire life. And it’s a Christmas gift that keeps on giving, Hannah, for as you grow up and have little kids of your own, you’ll love them the same way your mom loves you.
And so, as we get ready for another Christmas, you take care to notice how extra-nice everyone is treating each other. Take care to notice how friendly people are, how caring, and how generous they are to people who are less fortunate.
It’s the most wonderful time of year; a magical time that brings out the very best in people. And at the center of it all is Santa Claus and your mom. It’s really no surprise that your friends get the two of them confused for Christmas is a time of year where we all try to be a little bit more caring, just like our moms.
Merry Christmas, Hannah, and Merry Christmas to all.